Two friends head out for lunch. They want a place where they can enjoy the atmosphere as well as the food. Where do they go? Why to church, of course.
Sounds silly? It’s not to those who are familiar with Butler.
Two years ago, Crossroads Café opened at Three Crosses United Methodist Fellowship. Rinda Sansom, a member of the church has food service experience and at the time didn’t have a place to express her culinary expertise.
Previously she was the kitchen manager at Templed Hills Camp and she operated the café at Pumpkin Hollow Antiques in Bellville.
When asked whose idea it was to open a café, Sansom, while she was busy making a customer’s order said, “A crazy woman.” Her assistant for the day, Mary Ellen Gillson, pointed at Sansom.
Sansom expanded the café’s role at the church, which originally was a place to offer coffee and donuts between church services.
“It brings people into the building who wouldn’t ordinarily come into the building,” church secretary Sarah Gregg said. “It’s a nonthreatening way for people to come into the church who wouldn’t ordinarily come to church.”
Not that the café is meant to drive membership. It is solely a café that serves lunch and happens to be located in a church; and the setting is open, attractive, and comfortable.
Open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. guests find a regular menu that includes soups, quiche, sandwiches, salads, desserts and more. A stained glass window from the former Bellville church serves as a menu board for specials of the day and the desserts vary considerably.
On St. Patrick’s Day the desserts included Coconut Pecan Cake, Strawberry Pie, and Grasshopper Cheesecake.
The cafe also provides a popular carry-out service and guests come from all over. The guest book lists signatures from Galion, Mansfield, Lexington, Fredericktown, Loudonville, and out-of-state visitors.
Sansom plans the menus and does the cooking and baking. The most challenging part of operating a café in the church is that it wasn’t intended as a full-service restaurant. The kitchen is in the basement of the church; that means many trips between floors to cook and wash dishes.
She couldn’t manage it all without help. At least one church member or friend helps daily, and even family members have stepped in to help with groups. Some of those giving their time at the café include Gillson, Judy Gillespie, Sarah Lind, and Judy Harding.
Groups have enjoyed holding events at the café. Recently the Butler class of 1958 enjoyed lunch at the café; and Sansom has catered funeral calling hours, showers, and other groups.
Sansom said some women from Loudonville eat at the café and one day one of them offered a gracious comment. “They said they think this is Richland County’s best kept secret,” Sansom said.
In 2007 the congregations of Bellville Uunited Methodist Church (UMC), Mt. Sinai UMC and Trinity UMC combined to form a new Church – Three Crosses: A United Methodist Fellowship. The church is located at 12 Cleveland St., Butler.
Though the architect recommended using the existing Trinity church for the new congregation, care was taken to include elements of the other churches as well as match the old church’s architecture to the expansions to the structure. The sun often shines through the stained glass windows visible in the café.